Postdoc in Water, Energy and Carbon Cycle Interaction

  • Full Time
  • Anywhere

Job Details


New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL.

Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.

JPL is unique among NASA Centers in that its staff are Caltech employees, yet can access NASA technical resources. Cross-discipline teamwork is standard here: colleagues across JPL’s science and engineering organizations and Caltech’s academic campus often work together. Learning to speak and understand other disciplines’ languages is a doorway to the creativity needed to do what has not been done before. JPL staff are encouraged to create mission concepts that address humanity’s core questions through a combination of science and technology. They are supported in developing ideas into proposals and hardware and communicating funded missions’ results to the scientific community and the broader public. JPL seeks to employ scientists and engineers who are passionate about lifelong learning and excited to contribute to and lead team efforts. We emphasize the importance of partnering across discipline boundaries and creating a friendly, constructive work environment to overcome space exploration’s challenges. The postdocs at JPL benefit from an informal mentoring network, an annual conference showcasing their results, a dedicated seminar series, exposure to diverse career paths, and social connections across the JPL and Caltech community for advice on housing, childcare, and other aspects of living in southern California.

The JPL Water and Ecosystems group is looking for a post-doctoral scholar to use hydrology, surface energy balance, and vegetation datasets to improve our understanding of the linkages between terrestrial water, energy, and carbon cycles. Dr. Madeleine Pascolini-Campbell (, a Scientist at JPL, will be the postdoctoral advisor of the selected candidate. The appointee will carry out research in collaboration with the JPL advisor, other scientists in the Water and Ecosystems group, and the Aerosols and Clouds Group, resulting in publications in the open literature.

Energy drives the water and carbon cycles, and complex interactions exist between these systems. Changes in surface vegetation and land use impact energy partitioning, and water use, through land-atmosphere interactions.  Climate change is also expected to impact these systems, leading to an intensification of the terrestrial water cycle (expressed in terms of evapotranspiration, and precipitation). A major consequence of these changes is their impact on the partitioning of the surface energy balance (sensible, latent, and ground heat fluxes), which has implications for the energy stored on the Earth’s surface and the assessment of  Earth’s energy imbalance. Quantifying changes in the Earth’s energy, water, and carbon cycles is challenging, but synergies between satellite observations provide new insights into these dynamic systems.

The post-doctoral scholar will:

  • Analyze a wide range of hydrology, surface energy balance, and carbon cycle satellite data (evapotranspiration, precipitation, groundwater storage, net radiation, vegetation productivity from GRACE, CERES, GPM, MODIS, ECOSTRESS) as well as reanalysis data and land surface model output.
  • Produce datasets merging different satellite data, observations, and land surface model output.
  • Characterize the link between the energy, carbon, and terrestrial water cycles at regional to global scales.
  • Disentangle the role of land use and vegetation on the partitioning of energy and water balance components.
  • Work closely with JPL scientists who are part of the project, from the Water and Ecosystems Group and the Aerosols and Clouds Group, and international energy cycle assessment groups
  • Present the outcome of the research and data analysis via science team meetings, conferences, and peer-reviewed publications.


Applicants should have a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Earth System Science, Hydrology, Physics, or a related field.  We seek a creative and highly motivated person with a strong scientific background and excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

The candidate must be detail-oriented, be able to work both independently and in close collaboration with others, should have excellent abilities in programming (Matlab, Python, or similar), and be familiar with processing big data. Prior experience in working with existing satellite data and land surface models is regarded as merit. The candidate also should have an interest in working on an interdisciplinary project (energy balance/carbon cycle/hydrology).

The appointee will carry out research in collaboration with the JPL advisor, Madeleine Pascolini-Campbell, resulting in publications in the open literature.

Applicants should submit to this site a unique pdf containing the following: a 2-page cover letter stating their research accomplishments and interests, a CV, and contact information for three references.

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